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Swetow, Hope , Garamond


Hope Swetow
Age: 17, Grade: 12

School Name: Berkeley Carroll School, Brooklyn, NY
Educator: Erika Drezner

Category: Personal Essay & Memoir


  Bad Script is Ms. Lee’s English class. It’s me, wearing a Justice shirt that I thought was so cool because it said my name in sparkly letters. It’s me staring at Spencer across the classroom because I was convinced he’s my soulmate but him never looking at me back. Bad Script is my best friend calling me a follower in the hallway and me laughing it off like I don’t care. To a 5th grader, Bad Script seems like a normal font; to everyone else, it’s kind of pathetic. It’s like trying so hard to look older by wearing mascara and having your mom laugh at you. Bad Script is making your dad drop you off at the corner of Lincoln Place so when you walk into school it looks like you walked all the way from 4th Street by yourself. It’s thinking you look good in your new Brandy Melville skirt and then looking in the Reflections mirror as you walk to the third floor and seeing a very small girl in a very big skirt. Once you stop using Bad Script you never really turn back—it’s too embarrassing and it is NOT proper MLA format. 

Arial is plain. Arial is good sometimes, but not good enough at other times. Arial is 8th grade. Arial is inhaling Ensure milkshakes on the walk to school because the doctor is worried about your weight. It is Bella, the crippled pony you ride every day after school. Arial is easy like the Humanities test you got a 100 on. Arial is a little bland, it’s not immature like Bad Script but it’s not quite Times New Roman. It’s awkward. You need your mom to hold your hand when you get a flu shot but you scream at her when she doesn’t let you leave the house at night. Arial is forcing yourself to drink iced coffee but secretly hating it. It’s your first sip of beer. How do people enjoy drinking this? Arial is drama. It’s the group chat that excludes your friend. It is tears in the locker room. It is telling someone you don’t have plans and then hanging out with other friends. It is trying to steal the boy your best friend likes. Arial is not impressive. 

9th grade is Times New Roman. It is a push-up bra in a black tank top and Lululemon leggings. It’s the new kid in the cafeteria who keeps staring at you. Times New Roman matters, and you know it does. It is new; it is more sophisticated. It is pressure to do well and grow up fast. It is Mr. Sanders catching you holding hands under the table during Modern World History. It is your mom basically calling you a slut every time you leave the house in the morning. She is kind of right. It is chucking a Dunkin Donuts cup in your dad’s face. It’s the letter he leaves on your desk because you won’t talk to him. Times New Roman is forgetting you are only 15. Times New Roman is learning who your friends are and bonding with your brothers. It’s learning to make study guides for Geometry quizzes. It’s getting strep from a boy you “shared water” with. It’s picking up a facetime call from Zack after being absent for 2 weeks and opening the phone to Mr. Nelson’s face staring at you. It’s lying to parents. 

Garamond is my favorite font. Not EB Garamond. Garamond. Now I use it every day. I scoff at Times New Roman. Garamond is neat and small. It makes horrible writing look put together. Garamond is making yourself seem put together. Garamond is the end. Garamond is thinking you know yourself. It’s having the same conversation about college with every acquaintance. My college essay is in Garamond. It sucked until I put it in Garamond. It’s 30 days before you turn in your common app, 5 months before you are a legal adult, 9 months before leaving for college, and 1 year before you vote for president. Garamond is great. It is throwing whipped cream at the kitchen ceiling. It’s falling asleep with your makeup on. It’s Coco texting you out of nowhere. It’s strong relationships, liking the taste of coffee, and throwing out your pushup bras. Garamond is crying so hard in the atrium you start to laugh. It’s doing homework on the 3:23 train to Cold Spring Harbor every Tuesday. It is a 4.1-star rating on Uber. Garamond is satisfying. Garamond is worrying that you are running out of fonts.